NREL Mission and Vision

NREL strives to achieve our vision of a clean energy future for the world through our mission: leading research, innovation, and strategic partnerships to deliver solutions for a clean energy economy.

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How NREL Is Solving Today's Energy Challenges

NREL has decades of focused leadership in clean energy research, development, and deployment. No other institution has the long-standing expertise and breadth of knowledge that will form the foundation of the clean energy transition.

From our work in basic sciences to systems engineering and analysis, our researchers are focused on solving high-priority problems that result in market-ready solutions. Engaging in partnerships with forward-thinking commercial organizations, universities, foundations, and state, federal, and tribal governments ensures our work is relevant and applicable to today's energy problems.

Energy Justice

Our vision means leading an energy transition in which solutions are inclusively designed and benefits are equitably distributed. NREL is a leader in applied clean energy practices, working with thousands of communities nationally and around the world, many of which have been historically underserved in terms of access to clean energy or its benefits.

Addressing the Triple Planetary Crisis

From research to deployment, NREL's mission-driven work is leading the clean energy transition. To secure our vision for the future, we've set goals to address three primary threats facing humanity: climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss.

Each goal is critical; failure to act will result in:

Billions of people being displaced due to climate change

Billions of tons of waste worldwide

An escalation in the decline of global ecosystems.

Aerial view of an urban area under water.

Climate Change

NREL is committed to cutting carbon emissions 45% by 2030. This will achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and limit a global temperature increase to 1.5°C.

A plume of smoke rising from a smokestack.


We must reduce air pollution, plastic waste, and other nonrenewable materials to prevent diseases and premature deaths and protect aquatic ecosystems and wildlife habitats.

Underwater view of a seaturtle swimming near the water's surface.

Biodiversity Loss

Our work aims to reduce the destruction of global ecosystems and habitats through pollution, deforestation, and other human behaviors to preserve and protect plant and animal populations.

Research and Development

NREL is tackling these interconnected threats through research and development in the three critical areas below.

Integrated Energy Pathways

We are focused on modernizing our grid to support a high level of renewable energy integration, incorporating storage and advanced controls, and expanding transportation electrification while maintaining grid reliability and security.

City skyline and light trails at night

Electrons to Molecules

NREL researchers are exploring how to use affordable, renewable electricity to convert low-energy molecules—such as water and carbon dioxide—to generate cleaner, higher-value, and higher-energy chemicals, fuels, and materials.

Colorful molecule models

Circular Economy for Energy Materials

NREL aims to reduce waste and preserve resources by designing materials and products with reuse, recycling, and upcycling in mind from the start.

water bottles